The night before the 25 Hours in Frog Hollow, I met the guy we were all pretty much certain would win the men’s solo singlespeed division in the race: Jamon. After all, he had won the previous year, with 20 laps (second and third place had each done 14 laps)
Kenny and Heather had told me about Jamon. Kenny said, “He doesn’t start fast, but he never slows down, either. He knows his pace, stays with it, stops to eat every lap, and just keeps going like a machine. He just rides his ride. Nothing fazes him.”
Heather added, “And he’s just always so happy as he rides along for hour upon hour. It’ll be three in the morning and he’ll ride alongside you telling you how happy he is and what fun it is to be doing this ride, and how great he feels.”
“He sounds horrible,” I said.
“Oh yeah,” Heather agreed.
But as our group — Heather, Kenny, Zach, Brooks, Trisha, The Hammer and I — were sitting around the fire, eating grilled brats the night before the race, Jamon pulled up a chair and joined us, eating the salad he had brought along with him.
And as it turned out, he’s an extremely nice guy. Sure, all those things Heather mentioned are true, but Jamon pulls it off.
“Have a brat,” I said. “Better yet, have two.”
“I’ve got my dinner, but thanks for offering,” Jamon said, (politely) declining.
“You sure about that? My brats are kinda famous, and they’re really good,” I urged.
“I’m fine,” Jamon replied.
I shrugged. We went back to eating.
But then, after finishing his salad, Jamon took a brat. The following day, he told me, “Even while I was eating that, I was wondering if you had somehow sabotaged me with that brat.”
Sheesh. As if I — I, of all people! — would resort to shenanigans.
Just a Random, Rambling Conversation
So now let’s flash forward to the second lap of the race. I rode the first half mile or so of that lap with a woman who was riding solo, though with a geared bike. I asked her if she had done the race before, and she said she had, and — when pressed — even admitted she had been on the podium.
And then I put it all together. “Wait a minute,” I said. You’re Bec. You haven’t just been on the podium. You’ve won this thing before.”
“I suppose so,” she said. I tell you, some people are so modest. I tell you, I still look for opportunities to mention to anyone who will listen that I won the singlespeed division of the Leadville 100 once upon a time (For example, I found such an opportunity just this moment), and I certainly don’t let people know that I won it because hardly anyone else raced that category that year.
“Bec’s a badass,” said a voice to my left.
We then popped onto the beginning of singletrack, with four or so miles of climbing ahead of us ’til the big descent. Jamon intentionally got behind me, and I took it as a sign that he was in no particular hurry and was in the mood to chat.
And I discovered that what everyone says about Jamon is true. He was so happy to be on his bike and was just loving the day. Which suited me fine, because that was how I felt, too. It was sunny, warm enough to ride in shorts and short sleeves. And the vibe on the course was so excellent; it was rare that I ever had to ask anyone to yield — they just would move aside. Which made me want to do the same thing. Good behavior is contagious.
So Jamon and I were having this great, friendly conversation.
And then he brought up Kenny.
“I think Kenny’s going too hard,” Jamon said.
And then I understood: Jamon was worried about whether Kenny was a threat and was looking for information or reassurance. Which was an awesome opportunity for me to mess with him.
“I don’t know about that,” I replied. “I was trying to hang with Kenny during the first lap and he dropped me hard,” I said. “I was going into the red zone, and he was still riding easy, chatting with me like you and I are now.”
“Yeah,” I said. “And the thing about Kenny is, he’s got both speed and endurance like no one else I know.
“You think he’s letting his inner animal out?” Jamon asked.
“Oh for sure. And I think he knows exactly how much inner animal he’s got, too,” I answered. “Which, to be clear, is a lot.”
“Excuse me,” said Jamon, “But could I get by?”
And off he went, chasing Kenny. And within a lap or two, he caught Kenny and they duked it out for hours and hours. Beating each other up over first and second place. While I got to sit back and watch the battle.
Can I claim credit for this? Well, honestly, I’d like to. But I can’t. Because I would never resort to that kind of shenanigans.